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Thread: Spoilt Satin Finish on Collings MT

  1. #1
    Registered User Thomas Baker's Avatar
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    Default Spoilt Satin Finish on Collings MT

    Hello,
    I recently took my beloved Collings MT to a local (and renowned) luthier to have a K&K pickup installed. Living in the UK I couldnít get it back to Collings to do the job.
    I was told by the luthier that he had spilt some glue on the top surface which started to reacted with the satin nitroceluse finish. He then told me that he had used a substance to clean this glue off. Whatever this substance was (and Iíd assume it contained some sort of solvent or alcohol) has reacted with the top finish of the mandolin in places, causing it to go shiny and streaky. It certainly doesnít look great.
    Although I know the finish canít be repaired I have read some horror stories about alcohol dissolving the satin finish and seeping into the wood damaging the instrument itself and stories of the satin finish becoming soft and rubbing off.
    It looks OK at the moment, itís just shiny and smooth, but any advice/ opinions would be very greatly recieved!
    Thank you very much in advance!

    Thomas

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Spoilt Satin Finish on Collings MT

    If the original finish is still there, try rubbing it with a 0000 steel wool. A normal satin finish can get shiny from wear and one maker even included a piece of steel wool to take it back to satin.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  3. #3

    Default Re: Spoilt Satin Finish on Collings MT

    Contact Colings. They might have some suggestions as to what can be done.
    Good Advice: Play before you pay, and know your product and your market.

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    Default Re: Spoilt Satin Finish on Collings MT

    I think no matter how you treat the spots they will always stick out. The answer may be to hand buff the entire top. Some folks like to do this to their matte finishes even without damage. They use a fine cut rubbing compound meant for automobiles. Not sure what you have available in UK but in the states Meguires is popular for this. Whatever you use it should be silicone free. Slow careful hand rubbing does the trick, with a soft flannel cloth in circular motions, then wiping off residue before it dries with a clean cloth. The result would be a top that is shinier than it was before, but not glossy like a true gloss. That is not possible because matte finishes contain flatting agents. But some people like the smoother shinier look. If you don’t care for the look, of course, don’t do it. But at least the top would have a consistent look. Keep in mind the compound is abrasive and care should be taken to avoid going through the finish if it is thin, which it is on a Collings.

    I think it’s strange the luthier didn’t offer to try and do this for you. He may have access to polishing compounds even more effective than the ones for autos. But I know one luthier who uses Meguires for finish touch ups all the time.
    Don

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Spoilt Satin Finish on Collings MT

    Hi Thomas - A decent pic. might help to understand how 'bad' (or not) it is,but,as pops1 rightly says,a 'satin' finish will end up becoming shiny in places. Bringing a satin finish back to anything like it's original condition,is very hard !. You could use very fine grade steel wool - but minute fragments can dig into the finish. You could try a good brand of car 'cutting polish' - a fairly coarse grade,the finer grades bring up the 'shine'.

    ''Meguires'' polish is available in the UK - http://www.meguiars.co.uk/stockists/ Possibly the only way that you'll get back a really good finish,would be to have it refinished by a ''different'' luthier ?,
    Ivan
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    Registered User Thomas Baker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Spoilt Satin Finish on Collings MT

    Thank you everyone for your replies and advice!
    Attached are some of the photos of the mandolin. Although the light isn't great you can make out the different between where the cleaning product has been applied and the standard satin finish. You can also just about see some of the streaks left behind on the surface too.
    Although I do love the look of the mandolin, I think I should be able to get used to its new look. My main concern is as to whether it looks as tho any damage could come of this?

    Again thank you very much in advance,
    Thomas
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    I may be old but I'm ugly billhay4's Avatar
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    Default Re: Spoilt Satin Finish on Collings MT

    I think the damage is on the surface only. A good buff and polish should fix it, at the risk of making it shinier than you want. But it could just as easily be left alone.
    I would not be happy with the repair person, though.
    Bill
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  10. #8

    Default Re: Spoilt Satin Finish on Collings MT

    I wouldn't worry about damage to the finish or wood underneath, it looks like there's plenty of lacquer left. That big cord and carpenter jack are going to get all the attention and this is obviously a working instrument. Buffing out a satin finish is not a real solution either as the sheen dies back down due to the flattening agents in the lacquer and areas that get contact will shine up. Spill a little ale on it and enjoy it's great tone. Should you ever decide to glue in a K&K on another instrument, I would recommend their end-pin jack, nothing to get in the way. Cheers

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    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Spoilt Satin Finish on Collings MT

    Without knowing what finish exactly i son the mandolin and how the surface was done in the factory it's hard to tell.
    Some factories use the same finish as on shiny models but leave the final coat right "off the gun" to save costs so the traces of fine atomization will make it look satin but it will polish over time to gloss which is likely your case as few folks reported polishing up MT. Even true satin finishes with dulling agent added will show this behavior but the finish itself won't be as clear. Restoring to original surface texture is impossible. Only if you spray new layer of the finish on top. I would stay away from steel wool, it will just create mesh of fine (somewhat uneven) scratches that may apear like satin unless you look closer. From abrasives perhaps some grade of pumice could look close but you would need to do whole top any local polishing will be noticeable.
    Adrian

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    Registered User Thomas Baker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Spoilt Satin Finish on Collings MT

    Thank you everyone for the help and advice, has made me feel A Lot better about it!

    Cheers,
    Thomas

  13. #11

    Default Re: Spoilt Satin Finish on Collings MT

    I'm curious how the bass-side f-hole got roughed-up. Was it like that before the pickup was installed? Closeup pics, might need to click to make bigger:

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    Maybe someone was rooting around in there with some sort of installation or inspection tool, and wasn't being delicate enough? I know that's possible because I did that myself once, on a trial run on one of my own junker instruments, as a test to see how hard it would be to do a permanent pickup installation (drilling the hole in the side was a cinch, but installing that pickup to the underside of the top was much trickier). Doesn't always take much pressure on those f-hole edges to make a dent there.

    Even if the pickup is installed by the treble side f-hole, someone still could have been trying to secure the pickup in place using a tool through *both* f-holes to make sure the pickup was stuck on squarely instead of at an angle or something.

    Maybe it's nothing though, hopefully that was already there.

    But as to the finish question, hard to say from the pics, I can't really tell, looks alright. But I think I'd definitely be finding a different luthier though.

  14. #12
    Registered User Thomas Baker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Spoilt Satin Finish on Collings MT

    I canít say I ever noticed any damage to the f-holes until now, but cheers for the info!
    There was also a spec of superglue I found which was stuck to the lower end of the neck, upon removal it took a tiny tiny amount of the finish with it.
    Not a big problem, but itís fair to say Iíve been happier.
    Cheers

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    Default Re: Spoilt Satin Finish on Collings MT

    Apart from the scratches visible in your third photograph, the areas which appear to have been "cleaned" by your luthier seem to be going the same way as the matt finished neck on my Collings mandola; i.e. they are going slightly shiny. The constant contact of flesh on neck will eventually polish it and this should blend in naturally with the matt finish on the head back and sides. Unfortunately, I can't see this happening on the top of your mandolin and my preference would be for it to receive a light buffing to try to get the whole top looking the same.

    Fortunately, I'm unlikely to find the need for a luthier anywhere near Winchester!

  16. #14
    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
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    Default Re: Spoilt Satin Finish on Collings MT

    I had a Collings MT that I polished to a semi gloss with Meguiars. Take your time and use a very fine soft cotton cloth. I love how it turned out. Also, for the F hole scrapes, you can touch it up with a stain pen.

  17. #15

    Default Re: Spoilt Satin Finish on Collings MT

    I used to have a Collings A with satin finish. I never warmed up to the finish - it didn’t look “natural” and made a slight ffffft sound when your hand or something brushed against it. Did a lot of research including within old forums here. Went over all surfaces very lightly with 0000 steel wool, followed by light polishing with Novus no. 2, a scratch remover and polisher for plastics. Took my time with the process, examining incrementally and being patient over the course of a day. Wow, what a difference - neither the dullness of satin nor the overly bright reflective look of gloss finishes - it felt and looked “classic”. I once sent it back to Collings on nonrelated issues. A guy there really liked it, said it looked much like a nice varnish finish.

    Point is, such treatment would surely even out your current finish dilemma and most likely leave you with an overall finish you would enjoy as an improvement.

  18. #16

    Default Re: Spoilt Satin Finish on Collings MT

    Meant a MT, (not an A).

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    Registered User Thomas Baker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Spoilt Satin Finish on Collings MT

    Cheers for all the advice again, this is all really helpful and I am very grateful!
    Ever so slightly off the topic, does anybody know if I could be entitled to compensation for this? And If so, how to go about it in the UK? Some have suggested that this guys business should be insured to cover issues like this.
    This is my one and only mandolin and itís getting me through my uni degree so itís terrible to see avoidable things like this happen to it.

    Cheers again,
    Thomas

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    Default Re: Spoilt Satin Finish on Collings MT

    I think your first step should be to write to the luthier, clearly explain what you see as the problem and ask what he/she is prepared to do about it. You might like to remind them in the letter what they have already told you as to how it happened. You never know, they might be prepared to accept responsibility and sort it out. Make sure you set a time limit for their reply.

    If you don't get an answer or don't like their response, you may well have a claim against them for negligence and you can do this in the County Court. The key to success is "evidence". If you can provide documentation and prove that you are being reasonable, you will have a greater chance of success. You may want to show the mandolin to another luthier, ask their opinion and get a written estimate for putting you back in the position you were in before you handed the instrument to the first luthier.

  21. #19
    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Spoilt Satin Finish on Collings MT

    Just to add to what Ray said. Make sure that it is all in writing. And, playing Devil’s advocate: how did your luthier tell you about the damage? In writing or verbally? If verbally can you prove that the luthier did the damage? Do you have recent photos before it went in. I don’t doubt you but if it goes legal people can turn nasty.

    Hopefully he or she will do the decent thing or at least have professional indemnity insurance.

  22. #20
    Registered User Thomas Baker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Spoilt Satin Finish on Collings MT

    Sweet, cheers! Iíll see what I can do and hopefully everything can move forwards.
    Thomas

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    Default Re: Spoilt Satin Finish on Collings MT

    Just to add a data point- the back of the neck on my satin finished MT went shiny after a few hours of playing just from hand contact. It's possible to buff that finish out to a high gloss with not too much effort.

    From what I can see, you may not be able to restore that exact satin finish, but you could certainly turn it into a nice gloss top. Anything that rubs on the finish will eventually leave a shiny spot anyway.

  24. #22
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Spoilt Satin Finish on Collings MT

    Thomas - Having looked at your photos.,your mandolin still looks very good. Knowing what i know about 'matt' finishes & what you'll have gathered from the comments on here re.matt finishes,some parts are going to become shiny over the years. You only need to get a few greasy fingerprints on it & they're hard to remove without rubbing them,& that area will become shiny.

    Personally,i'd either leave it alone,or,use some beeswax cream polish, & blend the whole of the top finish into a semi-gloss finish - maybe leave it alone might be the best option. Matt finishes are difficult to maintain,
    Ivan
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  25. #23
    Registered User Thomas Baker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Spoilt Satin Finish on Collings MT

    Perfect, I’ll have a think and see what I can do! Thank you so much everybody for the help, it’s much appreciated!
    Thomas

  26. #24
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Spoilt Satin Finish on Collings MT

    Sooner or later your mandolin would develop some shinier spots (or dents, nicks, worn edges etc....). It's always hard when someone else does it ...I know how you feel - first real finish dents on my mandolin were done by a friend trying it out wearing cowboy belt buckle in shape of bullhead with long horns sticking out. I had spiderweb of deep tracks all around the back.
    In honor of the repairman is that he told you what happened, I know few folks who would cold heartedly withhold it.
    I would ask him if he can get the whole top/mandolin into uniform satin surface and work from there on my own wear spots.
    Adrian

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